It took a year and a half of dating and one massive fight before Daniel admitted he could cook anything other than ramen and Kraft macaroni and cheese. Though his stir fry totally ended up being worth forgiving him for, his kitchen repertoire pretty much stops there. This is a man who had to ask me how to cook the pre-made turkey burger patty from the freezer (hint: take the waxed paper off of it FIRST).
Luckily, unless I’m sick or out for the evening I’m perfectly happy to do all of the cooking. I prefer it! (Side note: my family will tell you that “cooking with me” really just means I’ll eventually take the spoon out of your hand mid-stir and take over. I contend this is slander and deny everything. I’m not bossy.) When I am gone for the night, I don’t want Daniel to live off of Domino’s pizza and delivery. I’d rather he had something on hand to whip up easily. As fate would have it, his macaroni and cheese skills are totally transferable to the task of making spaghetti and meatballs.
Not from scratch! I do that ahead of time for him. I try to always have marinara sauce portioned out in the freezer, as well as turkey meatballs to go with it. One of my favorite Sunday afternoon activities is to make a huge batch of both. Simmering sauce makes the house smell heavenly, and the payoff is easy dinners later. Plus, it gives me an excuse to sit on the couch and read while waiting for it to be finished. Cooking is really, really hard.
If you do make this lovely herby tomato sauce, don’t just use it for spaghetti. Try baking eggs in it and sopping up the juices with some crusty bread. Drop a cupful into your next vegetable soup as a flavorful base. Braise chicken and vegetables in it for a comforting winter meal. The options are endless and very, very tasty.
HERBED TOMATO SAUCE
1 28 ounce can diced or pureed tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, grated
1 can tomato paste
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 parmesan cheese rind
1 cup water
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (or 2 tablespoons dry)
¼ cup chopped fresh oregano (or 2 tablespoons dry)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dry)
½ tablespoon dry thyme
4 dry bay leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
salt & pepper to taste
In a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sautee the onions and carrots until soft, lightly salting & peppering the vegetables. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute or two. Add the tomatoes and the cup of water, as well as the remaining herbs and spices and parmesan rind. Stir everything together and let come to a boil.
Once it is boiling, turn down the heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot. Let it simmer for an hour or more, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reached the desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste - you can also add more sugar if your sauce is too tart (this will depend on what tomatoes you have used). Once the sauce is ready, let it cool slightly and fish out the bay leaves and the remains of the parmesan rind before serving. If you plan to freeze the sauce for later, let it cool completely before freezing in 1 cup servings (muffin tins work well for this).